Shortly after 3:00 P.M. today, CNN's Jake Tapper reported that the sixth of a series of videos of "ObamaCare architect" Jonathan Gruber had been located. In this one, Tapper says that according to Gruber, "'Mislabeling' helped us get rid of tax breaks." Here's Tapper's introduction:
"In a 2011 conversation about the Affordable Care Act, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the law more commonly known as Obamacare, talked about how the bill would get rid of all tax credits for employer-based health insurance through "mislabeling" what the tax is and who it would hit.
"In recent days, the past comments of Gruber -- who in a 2010 speech noted that he "helped write the federal bill" and "was a paid consultant to the Obama administration to help develop the technical details as well" -- have been given renewed attention.
"In previously posted but only recently noticed speeches, Gruber discusses how those pushing the bill took part in an "exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter," taking advantage of voters' "stupidity" to create a law that would ultimately be good for them.
"The issue at hand in this sixth video is known as the "Cadillac tax," which was represented as a tax on employers' expensive health insurance plans. While employers do not currently have to pay taxes on health insurance plans they provide employees, starting in 2018, companies that provide health insurance that costs more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family will have to pay a 40 percent tax.
"Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance," Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston. The subsidy is "terrible policy," Gruber said."It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of," Gruber said. "And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it's a tax on people who hold those insurance plans."
The remainder of Tapper's report is here. If you're wondering where all the tapes are coming from, Tapper explains:
"Many of the videos were discovered by a Philadelphia-area financial adviser named Rich Weinstein who has spent the last year researching Obamacare after his family insurance premiums doubled. Weinstein told CNN that he had assumed, incorrectly, that since he liked his health insurance plan and he had insurance, he wouldn't be much impacted by the new law."
The American Thinker blog has more about Weinstein and another private citizen "doing the job investigative reporters won't do.
Also today, Fox News' Kelley Beaucar Vlahos reports that "(d)espite Dem claims, trash-talking Gruber was well-paid adviser for ObamaCare and more." Here's how Vlahos starts his reporting:
"During the heyday of the ObamaCare push, Jonathan Gruber was whiz-kid-in-chief. His number-crunching on the benefits of the plan was frequently cited by Democrats trying to sell the proposal to the public.
"Now, Washington Democrats have a new message: He’s not with us.
"After a string of videos have emerged showing Gruber gloating about how the law’s authors exploited Americans’ “stupidity,” the White House has distanced itself. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi even claimed: “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.”
"But while Jonathan Gruber might not have been a familiar name until this week for many, Pelosi and the rest of the lawmakers who pushed the law certainly knew who he was in 2009 and 2010.
"A look at the record shows he was in fact paid to advise the Department of Health and Human Services. And he continues to play a role in health policy elsewhere, even as his unearthed videos cause headaches for the administration, just ahead of this weekend’s Round 2 enrollment launch.
"Gruber, an MIT professor and economist, has lived amid the health care debate in Washington for at least 20 years.
"Gruber was retained by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2009 on a $297,600 contract to provide “technical assistance in evaluating options for national healthcare reform.” Gruber also confirmed to The Washington Post that he was paid another $95,000 before that, for a total of nearly $400,000."
The remainder of Vlahos' reporting is here.
Late this afternoon, Shushannah Walshe of ABC News provides additional background and explains "how little-known MIT professor Jonathan Gruber shook up Washington this week," including this:
"Before Obamacare, he also advised the creation of a similar law in Massachusetts, sometimes called Romneycare, after Mitt Romney, who was governor of the Bay State at the time. Despite some resistance to the term “architect,” Gruber joined the president’s transition team in 2008 and no one disputes he played a key role in the law’s creation. The Washington Post reports he was also paid "almost $400,000" for the work, controversial in its own right.
"Gruber has made controversial comments in the past, but they don’t compare to the comments that came to light this week, six videos in total and counting – including one where he refers to the “stupidity of the American voter.” In another, when talking about Obamacare tax credits, he said, “American voters are too stupid to understand the difference.”
Meanwhile, this morning at National Review Online, David French posted a "Dear Democrats" letter, advising them, "don't even think about running from Jonathan Gruber." His lede:
"Ian Tuttle has a nice piece up over on the homepage about the Democrats’ many efforts to distance themselves from Jonathan “stupidity of the American voter” Gruber. He used to be known as the “architect” of Obamacare and now, according to CBS News, the Democrats are trying to “turn Gruber into a stranger.”
"Not so fast.
"In a 2010 piece, the Daily Kos outlined Gruber’s deep ties to the White House and to HHS, providing even links to his HHS contracts and the stated justifications for his contracts. The language from the presolicitation notice is particularly interesting . . . ." (links deleted)
And at Reason at noon today, Peter Suderman further explains how Gruber "embraced misleading public," adding:
"Remember, this is what Gruber was saying as the law was still being debated. It didn’t pass in the House, the critical step before hitting President Obama’s desk, until more than a week later. And what Gruber was saying, even before the bill was law, was that supporters had intentionally emphasized parts of the bill that were relatively minor, and that were not certain to even produce their intended effects.
"This is not lying, exactly; the bill did in fact include some attempts at cost control, although as Gruber said, it was unclear at the time if or how well they would work. And Gruber may well have been right that the public was more concerned with cost control than expanding coverage. But, especially in combination with the other video released this week, it indicates that Gruber believed that the law’s advocates were not being completely straight with the public, that supporters of Obamacare were telling the public what they believed the public wanted to hear instead of giving them the full story, and that they were doing so on the understanding that telling the full story would make the bill impossible to pass.
"What it shows, in other words, is Gruber openly embracing a strategy of messaging manipulation and misleading emphasis even while the bill was still being debated. If the public understood the bill clearly, he believed, they would reject it. It was more important to pass the bill."
Even the far left MSNBC posted a story about the Gruber video(s) yesterday evening. The lede from Benjy Sarlin's report:
"Congress returned this week to a looming immigration shutdown, a new climate change deal, and leadership elections in both parties, but recently unearthed remarks by Jonathan Gruber, a prominent architect of the Affordable Care Act, may have generated the most buzz.
"The comments, dug up by an amateur researcher, came from a conference a year ago in which Gruber said that the bill was “written a tortured way to make sure the [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes.” The “mandate” is the law’s controversial requirement that everyone must carry health insurance or otherwise face a fine.
"The real kicker, though, was what Gruber seemed to say next: that the Obama administration had relied on “the stupidity of the American voter” to push the law through."
Not to be outdone, the New York Times' Neil Irwin tries to downgrade the "Gruber controversy" as just "Washington's dirty little secret." In the commentary section of the Washington Times yesterday, James Bovard uses "(t)he ObamaCare deception of 'stupid' Americans" to explain "(h)ow the liberal elites rely on lies to pass their paternalistic agenda." Gateway Pundit also had a post this afternoon in which he tallies up the $4 million made by Jonathan Gruber from healthcare consulting.
Readers of Growls who are concerned about the intended and/or unintended consequences of ObamaCare are urged to contact their members of Congress. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:
- Senator Mark Warner (D) - write to him or call (202) 224-2023
- Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
- Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376
And, tell them ACTA sent you.